Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/129

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LIFE OF MATTHEW FLINDERS

forces when Admiral Elphinstone occupied the Cape of Good Hope, that a British protectorate had been established at that very important station. As Hunter had himself made the suggestion to the Government that such a step should be taken, the news was especially gratifying to him. Amongst his instructions from the Secretary of State was a direction to procure from South Africa live cattle for stocking the infant colony. He had brought out with him, at Sir Joseph Banks' suggestion, a supply of growing vegetables for transplantation and of seeds for sowing at appropriate seasons. He now set about obtaining the live stock.

The Reliance and the Supply sailed by way of Cape Horn to South Africa, where they took on board a supply of domestic animals. The former vessel carried 109 head of cattle, 107 sheep and three mares. Some of the officers brought live stock on their own account. Thus Bass had on board a cow and nineteen sheep, and Waterhouse had enough stock to start a small farm; but it does not appear that Flinders brought any animals. "I believe no ship ever went to sea so much lumbered," wrote Captain Waterhouse; and the unpleasantness of the voyage can be imagined, apart from that officer's assurance that it was "one of the longest and most disagreeable passages I ever made." The vessels left Cape Town for Sydney on April 11th, 1797. The Supply was so wretchedly leaky that it was considered positively unsafe for her to risk the voyage. But her commander, Lieutenant William Kent, had a high sense of duty, and his courage was guided by the fine seamanship characteristic of the service. Having in view the importance to the colony of the stock he had on board, he determined to run her through. As a matter of fact, the Supply arrived in Sydney forty-one days before the Reliance (May 16), though Hunter reported that she reached port "in a most distressed and